Sophomore Jackie Pangilinan swam two NCAA “B” cut times in leading the Crimson in its victory over Yale and Princeton.
Of the three teams that cheered increasingly louder on the Blodgett Pool sidelines, it was the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team that cheered alone after winning its last dual meet of the season against Princeton and Yale yesterday.
The Crimson (10-0, 7-0 Ivy) breezed through its last dual meet of the season, and its 20th in a row, by beating the Tigers (5-2, 5-1 Ivy) 203 to 116 and the Bulldogs (7-4, 2-4 Ivy) 252 to 67.
After day one, Harvard already had a significant lead over its big rival, Princeton, with Yale trailing far behind in the last spot.
“Princeton is a really great competitor and we never expect anything less,” sophomore Jackie Pangilinan said. “We never doubt that they will come out and give it their all. We were expecting them to be a lot faster than they were, though.”
The Crimson started out the meet with a big win in the 200-yard Medley Relay as Harvard’s “A” team of sophomores Lindsay Hart, Pangilinan, Bridget O’Connor, and Amanda Slaight, easily beat out the Tigers for first place.
The Crimson did slip a little in the next couple events, as it wasn’t able to claim a first-place spot.
The Crimson maintained its lead with multiple top finishes and went on to claim first place in the next six events to conclude day one.
Hart started the streak with her win in the 100-yard backstroke, which qualified her for the U.S. Senior Nationals with her time. She was followed by Pangilinan, who then led a one-two finish in the 100-yard breaststroke. Pangilinan’s win was also a NCAA provisional time.
“Last year we sent Jackie and [junior] Noelle [Bassi to NCAAs], and this year it would be great to have more people go,” junior Jessica Davidson said. “It’s great that we are getting more and more people to reach that level.”
The 200-yard butterfly would yield even better results for the Crimson, as it claimed all three top spots in the event. Bassi led the pack, winning by almost four seconds and grabbing an NCAA “B” cut time—qualifying her to compete in the NCAAs later this season. Senior Jane Evans and O’Connor finished in second and third respectively.
Slaight continued the winning streak with a win in the 50-yard freestyle.
She was followed by sophomore Alison Pipitone, who grabbed first place in the one-meter dive event, barely sneaking by the second place Princeton diver by two points. Sophomore Samantha Papadakis finished third in the event, only .10 points behind the second-place finisher.
Harvard showed its strength in the last event of the day, the 400-yard Individual Medley, taking four of the top five spots. Bassi led the charge with her first-place finish, which also was good enough for another NCAA “B” cut time. She was followed by Evans in third, freshman Linnea Sundberg in fourth, and junior Stacy Blondin in fifth.
“If you go first place in an event, you come out at least one point ahead,” Davidson said. “But those other-place points is what really differentiated us and what really expanded our lead.”
With eight events left on day two of its meet, Harvard would only give up two first-place spots.
The Crimson started Sunday with a flourish, taking the top three spots in the 100-yard freestyle. Senior Erin Mulkey led the pack with the win, followed by junior Emily Wilson and Slaight.
Hart swam her own NCAA “B” cut time in winning the 200-yard backstroke, with Harvard once again claiming four of the top five spots. Teammates senior Kim Ono, junior Jessica Davidson, and Sundberg took third, fourth, and fifth respectively.
“I think one of the best things about our team is that we value every place,” Pangilinan said.
Not to be outdone, Pangilinan swam her second NCAA “B” cut time of the meet when she won the 200-yard breaststroke, with junior LeeAnnChang finishing second.
While claiming only one of the top three spots, Bassi won the 500-yard freestyle to boost the team lead.
With a win in the 100-yard butterfly, O’Connor also swam a time that qualified for the U.S. Senior Nationals.
“I think more than getting NCAA and National cuts is the fact that we were swimming fast in season,” Pangilinan said. “There is no saying what we can do in two weeks at Ivies.”
Harvard won the 400-yard freestyle relay, the last event of the meet. The Crimson’s “A” team, of Slaight, Wilson, Bassi, and Mulkey paced the field by 2 seconds.
The Crimson now has more than a two-week break before returning to Blodgett Pool on Feb. 23 for the Ivy League Championships and for the ECAC Championships on Feb. 24.
—Staff writer Abigail M. Baird can be reached at email@example.com.